Arraignment for three men accused of holding up Moreno Valley jewelry store
Three men accused of holding up a Moreno Valley jewelry store and shooting a clerk before fleeing onto a freeway and leading police on a multi-county chase are slated to be arraigned today.
Jerome Bernard Allen, 23, Damine Lavonte Banks, 30, and Traevon Cortez Vidaud, 24 -- all of Los Angeles -- could face 20-plus years in prison if convicted of attempted murder, robbery and gang activity with multiple sentence- enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
A fourth defendant, 26-year-old Roosevelt Andrew Fernandez of Compton, was charged separately but is facing the same felony counts.
According to prosecutors, the foursome -- and a fifth suspect who remains outstanding -- allegedly robbed Empire Jewelry and Loan at 24571 Sunnymead Blvd. on the afternoon of Dec. 12.
Witnesses said four masked men armed with small-caliber pistols burst into the pawn shop and broke into display cases, stealing merchandise and shooting a clerk before fleeing in a charcoal-colored Lexus driven by a cohort left at the wheel during the holdup.
The bandits sped west on the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway, where they were spotted a few minutes later by California Highway Patrol officers who pursued them at speeds of 100 miles per hour through San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The robbers made their way south on the Orange (57) Freeway to Fullerton, where the chase ended on Nutwood Avenue, near Mihaylo Hall at the Cal State Fullerton campus.
Allen and Banks fled on foot and were arrested at or near the university, but two other men fled across the campus and melted in with the crowd.
Vidaud allegedly carjacked a motorist nearby, stealing his silver compact car, triggering a high-speed 20-minute chase that went west onto the Artesia (91) Freeway until the ex-con reached Compton, where he plowed through multiple intersections before pulling into the Imperial Courts Recreation Center in Watts and bailing on foot. He was immediately captured.
Meantime, at Cal State Fullerton, an estimated 10,000 people, mostly students, were stranded on the campus for more than seven hours as authorities searched for the two outstanding suspects.
Fernandez was arrested in Long Beach without incident on Dec. 26, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
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